I am Graziano “Gillstolemyride” Fabiano, an active fighting games community member. I have taken it upon myself to spotlight the Virtua Fighter community here on DashFight.
I have collected perspectives regarding the netcode, netplay accessibility, and, in general, about the PS4 exclusive Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown remaster and its possible impact on the community.
To do this, I have spoken with key figures, among them community admins, tournament organizers, streamers helping players learn the game, and high-level players, as well as some notable names from the wider FGC.
Nowadays, rollback netcode can make or break a game’s fate, both due to part of the consumer base not willing to support fighting game titles regardless of the quality of the game itself and the increasing need for the community to matchmake with more and more people.
To the point it’s used by companies as a point of marketing:
While it is common for the accent to be put on the covid pandemic as a discriminant for the need of rollback netcode, in reality, to thrive as a competitive player (as well as to play acceptably against your friends all over the world), rollback is a necessity.
While a thriving offline scene can soften the impact of a lack of rollback, rarely will it have players to cover all of the game’s roster, let alone the different gameplay styles, making online a priority for the players aspiring to be competitive.
Coupled with the netcode, the online experience to be enjoyable requires quality of life features, such as filters for matchmaking, the possibility of inviting friends, or even finding each other in lobbies, which are, at the time of writing, lacking in the game.
I have tried to set up my personal small project and found out that, while I was having a pretty manageable time, my opponent from Saudi Arabia didn’t have the same luck.
Here are our two experiences, my POV (Different match of the same set):
Since I wasn’t able to find players for all areas uncovered by a relay server, I have asked some members of the community, both OGs and relatively new, what they think about these aspects.
“How do you feel about the quality of the netcode, about quality of life features such as filters for matchmaking, wifi indicators, and generally about the impact Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown is having and will have on the community?”
"Personally, the netcode has been good. I have been playing a lot of games, and the only problems I have had have been against wifi players. This isn't however the perspective of the extended community, and I am aware that many players have had problems. I am also understanding that due to the short development time, the situation couldn't have been much better.
The connectivity issues could be less relevant if the matchmaking was to be precise; allowing more filters by region would help a lot in giving control to the players to shape their experience.
The community would also benefit from a wifi indicator that allows to decline unstable connection."
"I want to talk about the positives. I have played more ranked than room matches, but have had almost no problems. As far as ranked goes my experience has been really positive, and I'd say out of about 100 matches maybe 4 were really bad, the rest was pretty great. I am happy with the room matching features that the host is given, as well as the types of matches to be played (Kumite, tournament set settings etc.) I like that the experience is customizable, as well as capturing a pseudo tourney feel online.”
The netcode is a mixed bag; initially it was a disappointing experience. While I understand that they tried a new approach of relay servers, the experience overall hasn't been great. I have to say that the increased amount of features in the lobbies has been great and I know that Sega plans on adding some features.
In North America, having played for years on Xbox live servers, often with the same players, I was surprised to see that the experience felt overall more sluggish, and the feeling of the connection being relayed to relay servers has been surprising overall.
"To put it simply, it is trash. But we'll dissect why: The first thing is, the netcode itself it's trash; it isn't rollback, which has become a standard for fighting games after Mortal Kombat XL. Everyone should have it, from indie developers to big companies. Even for Guilty Gear, rollback was initiated by the community. I would have been happy with the game and ignored some of its problems if rollback would have been present. To do anything else aside from rollback is garbage."
"I have things to say for the online experience too. The biggest problem by far as of now is that you can't invite people in lobbies, which is a basic feature in fighting games. Considering the boundary-pushing legacy of the series, the lack of simultaneous lobbies is disappointing. Other fighting games are pushing the boundaries of lobbies; meanwhile, VF doesn't even try to compete in this field, and they're happy to accept second best, which won't be good enough against the current competition, which is striving to get better and better. The game either lacks the features or they don't work properly, which is not acceptable, like the password system."
I am still on an old generation no fibre connection. Features wise, there is a severe lack of a way to invite friends, filters by region, and matchmaking personalization in general. This will be fixed, according to sega, but the fix can't come fast enough.
This rumored system of servers relay for me made it troublesome to even play with friends in my same city.
The lack of a wifi indicator in ranked and the lack of matches I am able to find, even with permissive parameters, isn't too great.
The netcode isn't reliable and changes often even in terms of time, making the experience lackluster.
The ability of the host to kick players is welcomed, which wasn't the case before.
Regarding the impact, there have been 2 schools of thought; some people weren't happy about the showcase being only in Japanese and lacking features, while others welcomed the remaster with open arms, as well as the request of Sega for the veterans to help new players.
On a tournament organizer basis, having a port on current generation consoles makes it easier to sustain the scene.
Both old and new players are happy that a new (and newly painted) way to play and support the game is there.
We have seen a very good response from the community and new players, with an enthusiasm in getting involved and learning the game."
"The netcode is good actually; I have played a lot of ranked being a serious competitor, especially when matching with other people with good internet. However, once the big load of the players started weighing on the servers, the experience worsened. Sometimes It feels that I am matched with people living close and have bad experiences, but these experiences are consistent with other games and other netcodes I have played on, but sometimes the experience is great. At the highest ranks, the system starts matching me with overseas players despite local players at the same rank being active.
The matchmaking is making the experience inconsistent due to ignoring some of the settings such as connection quality filter, which is a shame because the netcode itself would be manageable with more functional matchmaking.
I think that the new remaster has huge potential, both for returning hardcore players and a lot of new players that hadn't engaged with VF before (or only engaged as spectators)”
As far VF5US netcode it's average, it's input delay and doesn't work at distance, which sounds standardized for delay netcode. The connection quality shown via bars is unreliable, showing a different quality from what you will experience. It gets better in lobbies, but the fact that it's hard to invite friends doesn't make it great. Today they added the room ID feature, which makes the lobbies searchable. I personally enjoyed the online experience, but I can understand why others may find it lackluster, especially due to its missing single-player features.
Sega appears to have a plan for the game, but the plan seems to focus only on Japan. The producer mentioned how they want to expand on a more global level, but I hope that the plan also includes netcode improvement and new features."
The existing VF community was playing the game on X360 and PS3 as well as working out parses solutions. It's great that now the player base is more unified. There seem to be indications of a multiplatform release later on, and nothing really deconfirms this. For the existing VF community, the impact has been overall positive, and some content creators (Gentelemathief, AdamYuki, Tricky, Chief_Flash, shidosha) are producing resources to help new players. It feels a bit like a resurgence, and with improvement to existing features, we can hopefully keep playing the game.”
"I was one of the people that had early access, one of the things with the netcode is, before the servers were overloaded, the quality of the connection was different.
The relay server could have been a good idea, especially if you're close to them, which reminds me of early multiplayer platforms such as Kaillera before they changed their matchmaking system, but ultimately in that system, the experience will only be as good as your proximity to the relay server.
The lobby system has been designed with some functionalities in mind that didn't end up working as intended, but I am hopeful and looking forward to Sega's improvement.
Ultimately, these conditions won't stop the scene from playing the game; we have kept playing it for 10 years, so that isn't going to stop us.
The 10 frame buffer helps in a delay environment to smooth the impact of bad connections, and the test of a netcode quality is on how it works on the bad ones.
VF5US has definitely had an impact on the scene, so this is definitely an interest check; although I can't know for sure, I feel that Sega and Sony made a deal to gain exclusivity. The price point isn't too bad to approach, especially for what it is. It's a great thing for the scene, playing a remaster of a game that was already good, and it's a beloved game. It's a chance to expand the audience and get new players interested in the franchise, especially with VF being missing from the scene for 10 years. “
“According to some rumors, the lack of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown presence at big circuits such as Evo and CEO is due to SEGA representatives forgetting to inform the staff about the remaster releasing. Whether this is true or not, how do you feel about the lack of tournament presence for the game?”
"It doesn't affect me personally. I am stuck in Europe and can't travel, but generally, the lack of VF presence at events represents a lack of faith in the product on Sega's hand, which may be due to the rushing the product, which would mean a lack of care for the series. If the product is funded by Sony as some people think, wouldn't Sony put it front and center for their own event (Evo)?"
(TPT also compiled a Virtua Fighter feedback document for RGGStudio that is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ehColJrOL07pAJRbRVJe2SrzYCCPQXchdXjwJZ6dDWA/edit#heading=h.stbtf7hpuas5)
"Let's say that I have always wanted to compete around the world for my favourite game, Virtua Fighter. I have some hope that there may be a last-minute inclusion but I am also aware that Sega has always had a Japan-first mindset which they don't hide at all. I have seen an announcement of season 0 and season 1 of Japanese exclusive tourneys, so maybe they will be focusing and optimizing the game first on the Japanese territory and then hopefully expand on a global level. This, however, leads me to question why they would release the game globally if they have no immediate plans of support for it."
"It’s frustrating despite being used that our game isn't included. I refuse to beg anymore and have been frustrated for a long time at tourney organizers, to the point of not caring."
The game is very well-revered and respected in the community, but unfortunately, many players don't end up sticking with the game as much as the game would need. I hope that the resurgence of interest and the hard work of the scene, with things such as guides, tutorials, coaching, and dedicated streams, may make Virtua Fighter a bit easier to use and maybe demystify it a little so the game can grow as it deserves."
"Ultimately, I wasn't surprised. We got the announcement like 1 week before release, with decent coverage on Sega's streaming channel, but an announcement so close to release felt a bit "shady," if you want. Due to such short notice, I understand how that would make it very hard for tournament organizers to include the game."
"Big tournaments are cool; within the context of the game, the last major event I can think about in time was Sega Cup 2013, so I am not surprised that the game is lacking presence at some current circuits. As a scene, we have been pushing supporting the game by ourselves for the longest time, so in the context of the game, for a re-release of the game, it is understandable, so personally, I'm not too stressed.
I would love for more people to be involved, especially in a tournament organizing capacity. With the game being released for free, I think it may be possible."
"I can't really say that I'm disappointed; it would always be good if these circuits were to include it. Maybe SEGA didn't really consider this, or maybe it's part of the marketing strategy of observing organic interest in consideration for a new title. The scene is happy and content with the remaster, and although we would like rollback and functioning features like anyone else, we are happy that the game exists at all. To strengthen the potential of the game in the tournament scene needs a bigger player pool and pull when it comes to things such as public votes and registration numbers.
The fact that the announcement was so close to release made it so people that may have not been paying attention miss the news.
I am personally not grieved by the lack of the game as I understand the reasons but I hope that this release will help the scene grow a bit more to a point the game will be considered."
"I don't really feel that there's a disconnect, but I feel that the rest of the FGC was sleeping on the VF community. The FGC is a collection of sub-communities, so there was never a fracture, in my opinion. I don't fault TOs on not supporting the game throughout the pandemic, especially due to some limitations such as old console, netcode, etc.
Now that the offline events are coming back, I am wondering if the game will have more presence. I can't know the insights on the decision for big circuits, but I am not too worried with the larger scene. We have been pretty independent and self-funded our own events, partnered with Parsec, and self-produced a global tour, shoutouts to Global Showdown."
Hearing all of these perspectives from all these dedicated people involved with the scene was really interesting for me, and made me reconsider not playing the game, more so due to the community’s passion than the quality of the experience itself.
What is your personal take? How has your experience been? Let me know in the comments!
There's even more to come on the topic! Next time we’ll take a look at how the Virtua Fighter community has nurtured a thriving scene without a new game for ten years!
Read my fighting games takes on: Twitter and come learn how to press buttons on YouTube and Twitch. Hell! If you ask nicely I will even coach you on Metafy.